Embarking on a narrowboating holiday with Drifters is a breeze. Whether you’re an experienced hand or a complete novice, narrowboat holidays are something to enjoy. They’re neither a challenge nor a chore if approached purely and simply for what they are… a holiday.
A recent short narrowboating break on the Worcester & Birmingham canal with ABC Narrowboats saw us taking charge of a delightful boat, the Marbled Wren. We left Worcester Marina mid-afternoon on Friday and headed north towards Droitwich and Stoke Prior. ABC Narrowboats (Part of the Drifters Group) have a really good mobile app which has loads of helpful information. It has weather forecasts, boat handbooks, a photo diary and much more.
Being experienced boaters, our initial briefing was short, yet informative. We couldn’t help noticing, however, that novices were given a thorough and very informative briefing. This really helped them to alleviate any fears before setting off.
The route out of Worcester is particularly scenic, passing through parks and residential areas, through tree-lined locks and past fields and gardens. There is one short stretch which passes through an industrial area. But after only a few minutes the rural scenery takes over.
It’s all quite social really. The Worcester & Birmingham Canal’s towpaths are busy with daytrippers and walkers. There are lots of chats with passers-by and lots of questions from curious onlookers. We even found eager volunteers to help with the first few locks we encountered. That’s a real bonus if there are only two of you on a boat, like us. It means less running around for the non-driver. He or she then doesn’t have to run back and forth between each set of gates.
On this particular trip we had no intention of covering great distances. We are perfectly happy finding a nice quiet spot to moor up and simply sit and watch the world go by. There’s an incredible variety of wildlife to be seen when narrowboating and there’s always a peacefulness that we don’t think can be found when out exploring by car. Even when the weather took a turn for the worse, we just settled down to sit and watch a film on the boat’s own TV.
Every time we take a boat out on the canals we can’t help noticing how stressful many people are at the start of their holiday. I think what many forget is that this isn’t a race. It’s not the equivalent of doing battle with the M5 on a Friday afternoon. It’s the equivalent of a leisurely stroll in the countryside, taking in everything the outdoors can offer. If one area has a few boats clustered together, why not tie-up for a quick cuppa and let them carry on? You can always resume when things are a little quieter.
As we were on a weekend break and had only three days to explore, we chickened out of attempting the famous Tardebigge lock flight, assuming we wouldn’t have made it back to Worcester in time if we had. With 30 locks in a row, it’s an impressive sight and let’s not forget – a remarkable feat of engineering. It’s amazing to think that many of the UK’s canals were built back in the nineteenth century.
So, bearing in mind our time constraints, we moored near “The Bridge” pub in Tibberton. This left us with only a short run back to Worcester on Sunday. All-in-all, even with some hefty rain showers to deal with, we had another fab weekend on the canals. It’s something I’m sure we’ll do again and again.
The beauty of using Drifters is that you can look at all the options in one place. It offers boats from all the main narrowboat companies and has a price match promise. It also gives you at-a-glance information for each of the canal bases, highlighting boat operators, local routes and places of interest. It’s a brilliant one stop shop for all things narrowboating.